Reference > Erinsborough News > The Inside Interview: Dan Paris
He’s got film star looks, but doesn’t care if Hollywood ever calls. He’s got a beautiful girlfriend, but no plans to head down the aisle. Jason Herbison meets the refreshingly down-to-earth Dan Paris…
As Neighbours’ Drew Kirk, he’s the dependable mechanic with bodywork most women would love to get their hands on. Meeting him off-screen, it soon becomes obvious that Dan shares many traits with his character… and we’re not just talking looking good in a pair of overalls! Like Drew, Dan hails from the Aussie outback and is also a loyal friend and partner. Dan also shares Drew’s sense of humour, and the pair both prefer the great outdoors to their living room couch.
Despite the fact that Dan is now one of Down Under’s hottest TV properties, the 28-year-old actor is still as unaffected as he was when he first found fame in Ramsay Street four years ago.
“I just fell into acting, so the fame side of things is something I try not to think about too much,” admits Dan. “At the end of the day, I’m just doing a job. I love what I do, but I try not to get too carried away with it.”
Dan was born and raised in the small town of Esperance, Western Australia. The eldest of five children, Dan spent most of his childhood looking after his twin brothers, Ben and Tim, and sisters Rebecca and Janine.
“As the oldest kid, I got stuck doing a lot of the babysitting but I didn’t mind,” he says. “My mum is great, and since my dad passed away, I’ve kind of taken on that role. I’m close to all my family and now I live in Melbourne, I try to get back as often as I can.”
While talk of life in the Aussie outback evokes images of kangaroos and deadly snakes, Dan explains that life in Esperance wasn’t quite like that.
“It was pretty normal. As a kid, I was really into sports,” he says. “I was actually named Junior Sportsperson of the Year in Western Australia in 1988, which was a big honour for me. At one stage, I thought about becoming a professional swimmer but I decided it was too hard. But I did do it professionally in a sense – my first part-time job was teaching kids how to swim! Coming from a small town gave me much more appreciation for life in the big cities,” he adds. “I think people who live in places like Melbourne tend to take it for granted, but I’ve been able to experience the best of both worlds.”
Like many school leavers, Dan was encouraged to go to university, where he chose to study accounting. “It was the done thing, to finish school and get into a nice, stable profession,” explains Dan. “When I was 20, I got a job as an accountant, I was stuck in an office all day – it wasn’t much fun at all. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but I knew that wasn’t it!”
Fate – not to mention good bone structure – stepped in and Dan found himself cruising down the catwalk. “I got into modelling, which was great for me at the time – not too stressful, and reasonably good money,” he says. “I knew it wasn’t going to be forever, but it was a means to an end and also a good way to travel. That’s actually how I met my partner, Tanya – modelling on a cruise ship in Thailand! It was pretty much love at first sight. Tanya and I have a lot in common – she’s from Perth, which is also in Western Australia. We both wanted to move to Melbourne. So it all worked out really well.”
Dan and Tanya have been together for over four years, and they share an apartment in a trendy Melbourne suburb. While Dan is firmly committed to his ladylove, he is surprisingly disinterested in marriage. “I don’t believe it’s necessary to have a ring on your finger in order to be committed,” he says. “Neither Tanya or I are interested in doing that. We’re very happy the way things are, so why rock the boat?”
Nor are kids on the agenda – Dan is happy to leave all that to his on-screen persona. “I have too many other things I want to do,” admits Dan. “Drew is far more traditional when it comes to things like that. His ambitions were to get married and start a family, whereas that’s the last thing I want to do right now!”
Unlike most budding actors who audition for countless roles before scoring a big break, Dan made an easy transition from modelling to acting. “It seemed like the natural progression,” explains Dan. “Neighbours was the first show I auditioned for, and amazingly, I got it! I had no idea when I started. I thought all I would have to do was go in and say my lines, but it turned out to be a lot harder than that. It took me a good while to work out what all the cameras were doing, and where the right place was to stand in terms of the lighting. After that, I think I got the hang of it and could finally relax.”
Four years on, Dan is still comfortable holding Drew’s spanner. He’s also built up a strong friendship with his co-star Kym Valentine, who plays his on-screen wife, Libby.
“Kym and I get along very well,” he grins. “Once, we had to fill out a questionnaire about each other for a magazine, and we got every question right!”
Actors working closely together are often the subject of rumours about their relationship continuing when the cameras stop rolling, and Dan and Kym are no exception. However, Dan insists there has never been anything more than friendship between them.
“We work together so much that I think we are so sick of each other by the end of the day, we couldn’t contemplate starting something in real life,” he laughs. Dan has also formed solid friendships with the other members of the cast, and as he explains, socialising is inevitable.
“We all get invited to the same sorts of things, so you can’t really avoid seeing each other,” he says. “But I also have a lot of other friends who aren’t in the industry, and it’s good to hang out with them too.”
With Drew and Libby now looking forward to starting a family, Dan will soon have to make choices about whether or not to renew his contract with the show. He admits to having mixed feelings about staying on Australia’s most famous street.
“I’m happy on Neighbours for now,” he says. “Sometimes I think it would be nice to stay and see Drew and Libby start a family, and at other moments, I lean toward trying new things. But I won’t be doing anything drastic for a little while at least.”
When the time comes for Dan to leave Erinsborough, his next move may be to the other side of the camera.
“Photography is one of my great passions,” he says. “It’s a real art form and it’s not as easy as it looks. I’ve been taking pictures of landscapes for quite a few years now, but I’m also getting into portraits too, I may do it professionally one day, who knows?”
As for following in the footsteps of past Neighbours stars like Guy Pearce and Russell Crowe, Dan just laughs. “Hollywood hasn’t come knocking on my door, but I suppose if it did, I wouldn’t say no,” he says. “I’m happy to let acting take me wherever, but if it doesn’t happen, I won’t be disappointed either. There are so many other things I want to do.”
This article originally appeared in Inside Soap magazine and was written by Jason Herbison